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Chicago Marathon…26.2 Miles is a Long Way!

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Thursday, October 15, 2015
in Road Races

Earlier this year I was looking for motivation and decided to enter me and my wife in the Chicago Marathon lottery. This race has always been on our bucket list and I was sure that if we were picked we would be highly motivated to train for this event. As luck would have it at the end of April we were both selected to run. Great news!

Fast forward five months and unfortunately the summer training did not go as planned. I never stopped running but never seemed to be able to ramp up my mileage to marathon training levels. I was only able to get a couple of 16 mile runs completed and had a terrible 15 mile “long” run 2 weeks before Chicago. Other than that I basically did four workouts of 5-6 miles each week. Not even close to enough training. In addition part of my goal was to eliminate the 15 pounds I have gained since my Ironman finish in 2012. I knew this was essential to running a successful marathon. Unfortunately I did not accomplish this goal either.

I arrived in Chicago last weekend under trained and overweight. My last hope was that experience would get me through the event. Chicago would be my 10th marathon. At the end of the day it was only a marathon, right?

Obviously I didn’t take my training seriously enough and I continued this trend in my pre-race preparations. After picking up my race packet on Saturday, I visited several Chicago establishments and enjoyed Shepard’s pie, spaghetti and meatballs, and a 6 pack of beer. Carbo loading at its finest! I did get to bed early and was ready to go.

Race morning I woke feeling great and again was counting on my experience to carry me through. I really was not nervous at all. Getting to the start line in Chicago was chaotic. If you run in this event make sure you leave early. It took forever shuffle stepping with thousands of other runners to get into your assigned corral. I got to the gate to enter the corrals for Wave 1 and it took me almost 30 minutes to get into  Corral B. Here is a little tip…I was in corral B and there were about 25 open porta potties just outside the corral. Next time just wait until you get to your corral to take advantage of one last comfort stop.

The race started and I was ready to go. Weather was almost perfect (maybe a little warm) and I decided to bring nothing to the event. No watch, no fuel belt, no phone.

If I wasn’t going to attempt to break my PR why bring a watch?

 Fuel belt?  There would be plenty of aid stations.

Phone?   Why?  I guess I could have taken pictures but didn’t want to risk dropping it.

I ran by feel for the first 10 miles and really couldn’t figure out my time due to a lengthy stagger before I crossed the start line due to the crowds.  I was feeling OK until about mile 11 when my legs started to complain a bit. I knew this was a bad sign. I ran the first half in 1:53 which was probably a good marathon pace for me but unfortunately my legs were starting to feel dead. Based on my training, I was really only good for about 13-16 miles and that reality was hitting home. I started walking soon after mile 16. At around mile 18 I felt someone pat my butt, looked to my left, and saw my wife. She had started in Corral D and had caught up to me. Ouch!  We walked together for about a minute and then she ran ahead. My legs were dead and it took a big effort to walk/run the last 8 miles. The crowds were awesome and definitely helped as I trudged along the streets of Chicago.

I did do something I have never done during a marathon. At around mile 21 I heard someone yelling, “Anyone want a beer”!  My ears perked up and I saw a few guys offering runners Dixie cups filled with ice cold PBR. I helped myself to two cups and continued on my way. Thanks guys! A marathon is a long way! I finished the race in 4:49:59.  My slowest marathon to date. My wife finished in 4:19.

Excuses? Yes, I have plenty but I am a true believer that if you really want to do something you can find a way to get it done. I basically have been enjoying life and couldn’t fully commit to marathon training. I am still happy I completed the event and was able to experience the Chicago Marathon. Crazy as it sounds I still finished around the middle of the pack. Approximately 20,000 people finished after me. Wow!

As I write this post I am severely sore and probably will not be able to run for at least a week to ten days. The marathon distance must be respected. It is a long way!

What’s next? If I can ever get serious again I may enter another challenging event in 2016. I have a couple ideas but still trying to figure a few things out. In case it isn’t obvious, experience will only get you so far. You can “fake” your way through 5k/10k or maybe even a half marathon but more than that and lack of training will really show. 

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NYC Half Marathon 2015 Race Report

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Tuesday, March 17, 2015
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On Sunday I ran in the NYC Half Marathon. This is a huge event with almost 20,000 finishers. Registration is done by lottery and I was lucky enough to get picked. The race features a point to point course that starts in Central Park and finishes near Wall Street. (sorry no course video) The race has several tough hills during the first 5 miles in Central Park but the remainder of the race is almost completely flat. If you are looking for a spring half marathon I would highly recommend this race. A few highlights of the course include Central Park, Times Square, Freedom Tower, and the Battery Park Tunnel.

Race Day

Due to the terrible New England winter I had only ran outside 3x this year prior to running in this half marathon. That has to be a record for me. I have been putting in some decent mileage on the treadmill this season but it is hard to tell how your body will react to running outside after such a long period indoors.

After a rainy Saturday I woke on Sunday to a nice 42 degrees and dry weather. Perfect for long sleeve T and shorts for me. Since this race is such a large event runners are assigned corrals where runners are staged by projected pace before the start. This whole process was well organized and I had no issues at all getting to my corral and the start.

The race starts uphill and the first few miles have rolling terrain. Central Park is hilly and the first 6 miles are in the park. I knew hills would be an issue (haven’t seen one in months) but I paced myself properly and survived Central Park intact. I will mention that right after the 5k mark there is a really tough uphill. This one hurt a bit. The key to this race is to really stay comfortable the first 6 miles and then hopefully pick up the pace the 2nd half of the race.

After you leave the park you have a great view of Times Square as you run down Seventh Avenue. It is incredible to run right down the middle of 7th Avenue thru Times Square with no traffic. This put a smile on my face. I turned to a runner beside me and said “It doesn’t get any better than this!”

After turning on 42nd Street I was still running strong with a nice slight downhill on the way to the West Side Highway. The remainder of the race is almost entirely on the West Side Highway. This section is completely flat. If you are having a great day this could be a part of the race where you can really make up time or hold your pace. Unfortunately the wheels started to come off for me around mile 9. My pace dropped about 30 seconds a mile and I couldn’t get it back. I didn’t completely blow up and was at least able to manage 8 minute miles on the way in.

One really cool part of the course is running thru the Battery Park Tunnel. This comes just after mile 12. The tunnel is slightly downhill so I tried one last effort to throw in a speed burst and capitalize on the downhill. My strategy worked but ***Runner Beware*** As you exit the tunnel there is a short but tough uphill. After trying to run hard thru the tunnel this was an unwelcome surprise and my legs blew up. There is only a little more than a half mile remaining in the race after this hill but my legs were toast. I struggled to the finish and ended my day in 1:40:34.

Was this a good time for me? Based on this past winter I would say this a fine place to start my season. Too many times runners complain and make excuses after every event. You can’t run a PR every time you race. I ran a great race and had a great time. I think this is a great event and I will try to get in again next year.

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Lowell Thanks 4 Giving 2014 Race Report

Posted by David Hardy
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on Monday, December 01, 2014
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Running a road race has been a part of my Thanksgiving Day tradition 16 times. I ran my hometown Lowell Thanks for Giving 5k race for the 11th time on Thanksgiving Day. Due to the moderate snowstorm we had on Wednesday night the conditions were not the best on Thanksgiving morning. Shoveling out my driveway before heading out to the race is not a chore I would like to add to my Thanksgiving Day.

I am not in great shape at the moment but running this race is more tradition than running a good time. This is a great opportunity to burn a few calories before the big meal and impress your family with your incredible fitness commitment. If you run on Thanksgiving Day I am sure you have heard something like this around the dinner table.

You ran today?   Wow, really? You did a race this morning?   Incredible!

The reality is if you are a runner the Thanksgiving Day 5k/5 miler is kind of fun and really doesn’t take that much commitment. Everyone has the day off and there is always a festive atmosphere in the air.

2014 Thanks 4 Giving 5k Race

This year due to the snowstorm the night before, race officials were challenged with shoveling snow away from the start/finish line and dealing with icy conditions.  It wasn’t extremely cold but the snow made it feel colder. Due to the conditions there seemed to be a lot less people than usual. I checked the results and there were about 400 people less than the previous year.

Every year I attend a Thanksgiving spoiler on Wednesday night before Thanksgiving Day. This year I had a great time…Maybe too good of a time. Take a look at the picture below.

 You would think this would be how I would look after running the race. Unfortunately this was me before the race. Let’s just say I don’t always make things easy on myself to maintain my Thanksgiving Day running tradition.

I quickly decided that due to the conditions I would just enjoy the day and run with my wife. This ended up being a good choice as there was no way I could have run a solid effort. It really is amazing how much easier it is to run a 5k when you are not racing. (Haha!)  We finished around 23:30 and kept the tradition alive.

The Lowell Thanks 4 Giving 5k/10k is a great event with an easy course, good parking, and is well organized. If you do not have a Thanksgiving Day race you attend and are in the Lowell area next year give it a try!

 

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Yankee Homecoming 10 Miler 2014 Race Report

Posted by Sarah Hardy
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on Thursday, July 31, 2014
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On Tuesday, July 29th I ran one of my favorite road races, The Yankee Homecoming 10 Miler in Newburyport, MA.  It was the 8th time I've run the race and while not my fastest 10 miler, I was happy with my 1:19:09.  Because this event is run in the evening and it's held in the middle of the summer it's often a very warm night.  However, 2014 was a beautiful summer night to race with temps in the mid-70s and a nice cloud cover. 

One reason I love this event is because of the varied terrain over the 10 miles, and the course gives you great views of the Merrimack River and Maudslay State Park. I always start out fast as the first two miles are flat or downhill, and this year was no different with my fastest two miles coming right away.   The course stays pretty flat down Water St. which then turns into Merrimack St.  As you run through downtown Newburyport both sides of the street are lined with cheering spectators.  I love this part of the course because of the crowd support and the beautiful views of the river to the right. 

Shortly after mile 4, the course starts to get interesting.  You head into the woods and the rolling hills start.  At this point I put in my headphones and tried to concentrate on keeping a steady pace.  In longer events I usually run pretty consistent splits, but at Yankee I'm never able to do that. The flats and the hills really mess with my pace.  There were volunteers at each mile marker calling out the time, but I tried not to hear them.  I don't like to know if I've had a slow mile.  I prefer to run based on how I feel and look at my splits later.  For this race my fastest mile was 7:30 (mile 1) and my slowest was 8:14 (mile 5). 

Miles 5-8 are scenic and rolling.  I was happy with how I felt during these miles.  I tried to keep a steady pace going up the hills without red lining.  Running around and through Maudslay State Park is great!  I always try to distract myself by taking in the view.  I probably mystify most runners whose eyes are locked straight ahead as I swivel my head around and notice what I'm running by.  

The last two miles of this race were tough for me.  Getting over the I-95 overpass is challenging.  It felt like the longest hill on the course, but it might be because it falls just before mile 8.  After the overpass the course is mostly flat, but the road is straight and wide and you can see very far ahead.  I tried to increase my pace after passing mile 8 but the open view made me feel like I wasn't making much forward progress.   I ended up tucking in behind another runner and just staring at his back instead of the looking into the distance.  That helped, and I ran 7:53 and 7:45 for the last two miles.

According to my Garmin, I ended up running 10.09 miles.  I'll have to work on cutting the tangents better next time.  But otherwise I'm very happy with my race.  It was a great crowd to run with, good spectator support and lots of water stops (but could we have Gatorade too next year???).  Yankee Homecoming 10 mile is a great summer race, and I hope to be back next year.

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Good Times Spring Series Award Night 2014

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Wednesday, June 11, 2014
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Last night was the Good Times 5k Spring Series Award night. This series is a 5k road race held on 10 consecutive Tuesday nights in Lowell, Massachusetts. Each week points are awarded to each finisher using a complicated formula based on the overall winner's time. The points are cumulative so showing up for all 10 weeks is mandatory if you want to place in your age group. Weekly prizes are also awarded but the big prize is placing overall in the series. If you are just hearing about this series for the first time check out the course and more info here.

My goal this year and every year is to complete all 10 races and place in my age group. Mission accomplished! Last night I was awarded the Golden Mylie (finishing all 10 races) and a plaque for finishing 2nd in my age group for the series. What made this even more satisfying was that my wife also completed the entire series and placed second as well in her age group. Finishing all 10 races is a commitment. This was especially true this year as I suffered a bad back injury before week 5 and it took a tremendous effort to show up and finish the race. (story here) Everyone who completed all 10 races can look back and remember a week where they almost didn't make it. I am happy I completed my goal but I can honestly say I need a few weeks off from racing on Tuesday nights!

What's next? Well, after a few weeks of rest I plan on re-doubling my training efforts. This might sound crazy but completing a 5k every week actually made me lose some conditioning. I ended up racing on 4 weekends during the series as well and at this point my legs are smoked. I need a few solid weeks of training to get back on track. After that I plan on racing a lot this summer and possibly training for a longer distance event this fall.

In case this series interests you the Good Times Summer Series actually starts next Tuesday night. It is the same format as the Spring Series. Check it out here if you are interested. (Good Times Summer Series)

 

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Bobcat Memorial 5k: Race Win?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Thursday, May 29, 2014
in Road Races

Memorial Day weekend for me usually means great rides in the Newfound Lake area of New Hampshire. This area is perfect for cycling and running. I always get some great workouts in and then play golf all afternoon each day. As I headed north on Saturday morning unfortunately it rained most of the way. I did not want to ride in the rain so I had to move to an unexpected plan B....The Bobcat Memorial 5k!

I had looked briefly for races in the area the week before and this was the only race I could find. The race did not have a website and very limited information so I had no idea what to expect. The race started at Plymouth High School in Plymouth, NH.

 

I signed up and headed to the start. The race had a small field (50-60 people) and soon after the race began I was running in a small group of 3 runners at the front. The course was rolling and primarily downhill for the first mile and I ran a decent and controlled pace for mile 1. (613) Soon after mile one I noticed that our small group was all alone and there was no one else in sight.

Around the 1.5 mile mark I ran into an issue that I have never experienced in a road race. The two guys I was running with slowed considerably and I went to the front. The issue was I could not run ahead because I had no idea where I was and the race was not marked. This forced me to stay with the other two guys even though our paced slowed to well over 7 minutes per mile.

Finally I figured out where I was and noticed a few signs for the race and decided to go ahead. I quickly dropped the other two guys and was leading the race! Soon after I was faced with a short but tough climb. I made it up and over and started hearing footsteps. To make a long story short I was passed around the 2.5 mile mark and ended up placing 2nd by 30 seconds.

After I crossed the finish line the race director came up to me and asked if I had won the race. I told her I came in second and she informed me that the other runner was in high school so I was the official adult winner. She congratulated me and told me the award was a t-shirt.

Did I win? In my opinion it is clear I came in second and I will take it. It was nice to actually lead a race for a length of time and be competitive right to the end. Regardless of whether the other runner was a student I was still the second runner to cross the line. With a small race like this with no awards or fanfare I guess it really doesn't matter. It was a fun and different experience to start my weekend.

I filmed the race so next year runners can View The Race Before They Do The Race!

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Running is Not Always Easy

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Tuesday, May 20, 2014
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Week 7 of the Good Times Spring Series.....In a 10 week series with cumulative points scoring it is mandatory to show up for 10 straight Tuesday nights and run a 5k. If you think you have a chance to place in your age group or want the Golden Mylie Award (finish all 10 races) then you have no choice....Tuesday nights is Good Times night no matter what. This is not always an easy accomplishment.

I have not wrote a post for a few weeks....Here is an update on my series progress.

Unfortunately I hurt my back 2 weeks ago after a bike ride. I completed my ride, got off my bike and immediately felt a sharp pain across my lower back. I had pain and tightness in my lower back for the rest of the day. I woke up Sunday night and could not get out of bed. On Monday I was in extreme pain and could not go to work. I went to the chiropractor and my regular doctor and received pain medication and muscle relaxers. This medication helped a little but I was still in terrible pain.

The bottom line is that after 2 days of extreme pain I was faced with an issue. Tuesday night is Good Times night. How am I going to do the race when I could not get out of bed in the morning??? Now you may consider what I think important as ridiculous but at the moment placing in my age group in the series and getting the Golden Mylie are my top priorities. My plan is to accomplish this goal at all costs.

Why is this so important? Not really sure. The Good Times Spring Series has become an important part of my season for several years. Once I start the series I will not stop.....check out what happened last year on a Tuesday. (2013 Heart Attack Scare)

Back to my story....First a disclaimer. (I am not a doctor nor do I believe anyone should take any medical advice from me nor consider my actions as appropriate.) How did I get it done? I rested my back all day and then took a double dose of pain medication in the afternoon. I then took a hot shower and used a heating pad on my back until right before I left for the race. I walked to the start of the race (no warm-up) and then started much further back at the start. How did I do? After a very slow and painful first mile my back actually warmed up and I finished strong. I ended with a time of 21:08...only about a minute slower than usual.  Success!

My back is slowly getting better but I am still in pain. Last week (week 6) I managed my best time in the series so far (20:00) and this week (week 7) I ran a very uninspired 20:18.

Runners are used to running through physical pain, poor weather conditions, personal issues etc. Non runners don't understand why we choose to suffer. Most people outside of our sport decide to quit the minute they feel slightly uncomfortable. Determination and the ability to ignore being uncomfortable are common traits in runners. This ability is what gets us to the finish line when our body has nothing left. We do not quit or give up....We also may be a little crazy...

 Week 7 results   20:18 12th overall  2nd age group

Current age group place in series:   2nd

On to week 8...three weeks to go!

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Strategy for a Fast 5k

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Wednesday, April 30, 2014
in Road Races

Before the Good Times 5k last night I once again tried to figure out a strategy to run a faster time. You would think after running the Good Times course over 50x I would have a solid game plan. Every week I say I will start with a controlled  pace and then hold that effort for the entire race. That seems like a reasonable game plan.

The problem with the 5k is that it is such a short event there really is no time to "run easy". In order to have a great time you have to hurt the whole way with close to maximum effort. Let's be honest....that is not fun. Don't get me wrong. I love racing and the pain required to push yourself to the max. When competing in a ten week series some weeks you just don't "feel" like killing yourself and look for a way out. You will hear things like...I am tired this week, I will just take it easy...or Don't expect much from me this week. Unfortunately I do not operate this way. Regardless of what I say before the race as soon as the race starts I give 100% effort. I might not be at the top of my game each week but the effort will always be there.

What is my official 5k strategy? 

Mile 1-Close to 100% (but controlled) effort. Depending on the day you will know what kind of "zip" you have in your legs by the mile 1 mark.

Mile 2- Sustain a pace as close to mile 1 as you can...speed will probably slip but try to hold on.

Mile 3-Stay steady until half way through mile 3 and then try to push to the finish. Always sprint to the finish.

Seems pretty simple doesn't it? The biggest problem I see with 5k runners is people running too slow on the first mile. There is no time to settle into a pace. Once the race starts you got to go! Now obviously you do not want to burn out in the first mile but I have found it is better to be close to burn out and try to hold on than to willingly give up 30 seconds on the first mile. More often than not you will never get that time back.

The best way to master your 5k race strategy is to experiment. Enter a ton of 5k's and see what works for you. If you try to avoid pain in a 5k you will never have a good time. You have to train your body to tolerate maximum effort for the entire 3.1 miles. This distance is not for everyone but I like it because in 20 minutes or less the race is done and you can try it again next week.

Good Times 5k Series Week 4 Results

Time: 20:14    11th overall 3rd age group

Really crazy but ended up with the exact same time as last week. The race felt harder and the weather conditions were totally different but the end result was the same.

 

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Another Week at Good Times 5k Series

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Sunday, April 27, 2014
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This week was the third week in the 10 week Good Times 5K Series. The interesting part of this week was the race format. For week three women start first and then 2:30 later all of the men start the race. The overall winner of the race receives $100, man or woman. I am not in competition for the $100 but beating my wife in this race is a yearly goal.

 

Although I enjoy the format of this race I do not enjoy the race conditions. The Good Times course is narrow in many places and it is very difficult to navigate through 200 women on the course.

The weather was a balmy 65 degrees and a little muggy. After the women started we waited the 2:30 and then took off. As I expected running along the Riverwalk was extremely difficult and at times I had to almost come to a stop to wait for an opening through the crowd of women runners. Now this week I decided to run without a watch so I do not have any split times but I felt like I had a slow first mile. I struggled a bit over the second mile (third week in a row) and continued to press on. Finally I got on the Aiken Street Bridge and in the distance I saw my wife. Now I knew that even though I was feeling terrible there was no way I wasn't going to catch her. I continued at a steady pace and passed her just before the Tsongas Arena and pushed to the finish.

As I mentioned last week, in a ten week series there are a lot of ups and downs. This week's goal was to 1) Catch my wife; 2) Run a steady time....How did I do? Well, I beat my wife and I ended up running 20:14. That is 2 seconds faster than week two and my fastest time so far in the series. (not that fast)

This is not a misprint...I ran 2 seconds faster than last week but came in the same position overall and in my age group.

20:14  10th overall 2nd in age group...on to week 4.

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Good Times 5k Spring Series Week Two

Posted by David Hardy
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on Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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Last night was week two of the Good Times 5k Spring Series. After the extremely windy conditions of week one I was hoping for better weather. Despite the wind and rain throughout the day, the weather actually improved slightly by race time. It was still windy but it was a warm 60 degrees with little to no rain for the race.

My goal for week two was to run a steady pace and get close to my time from week one. Even though the weather was a lot better my legs were still tired from my triathlon this past Sunday. I am getting a little old to be racing twice in three days with no effect on my performance.

I started nice and strong running a decent 6:17 for the first mile. I knew right away my legs had no zip but felt OK. As I started the second mile I began to fall apart. I am beginning to think this new second mile for Good Times is a lot tougher than the old course. The hill up to the bridge is longer and the running is awkward with potholes, sewer drains, and jersey barriers in your way. I ended up running 6:41 for mile 2 which was only 7 seconds better than the week before when I almost came down to a walk due to the wind. After mile two my legs gave out and I had to concentrate to avoid losing a ton of time. I ended up with a 6:46 3rd mile. After a sprint to the finish I ended up with 20:16. This was 7 seconds better than last week and the same time I got in the 5k at the triathlon two days earlier.

I have done the Good Times Series many times and it is important to not get too high or too low week to week. Running a 5k for ten weeks straight is not easy.  Many things happen week to week that can effect the way your legs feel. Other races, tough work schedules, sickness, etc. can all have an effect on your body resulting in a poor or mediocre performance. The key is to run as steady as you can and fight through the bad weeks and then really take advantage of the weeks you feel great. You never know how your competition is feeling week to week but assume they are having as many ups and downs as you are.

Good Times rolls on....week 3 next week.

My results week two: 20:16   10th overall   2nd in age group

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Good Times 5k Series Week One Race Report

Posted by David Hardy
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on Wednesday, April 09, 2014
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Finally after what seemed like the longest winter of all time the 12th Good Times 5k Spring Series began last night. This series has come to symbolize the start of spring and the racing season for me and many other local residents. It is always interesting to see who starts the season in good form or who may have put on a few pounds over the winter months. 

 The New Course

The series started with a slightly new course due to the demolition of the University Avenue Bridge over the winter. The start line of the course was moved up a bit but was in the same general area behind the parking garage. The course remained the same until a new but very short gravel section near the dorms. After passing the dorms, the new bridge is about a block past the old bridge so now the hill up to the bridge is longer. After that the course remains the same until the finish. After the left turn to the finish behind the parking garage the finish line is almost right away. Now you should start your finish line sprint before the turn to account for this.

The Race

If you had asked me mid-day yesterday how the weather looked for the race I would have said fantastic! Winds were calm and it was 65 degrees. Unfortunately as the afternoon waned, the winds picked up significantly. By race time it was about 55 degrees with a heavy wind.

It was nice running in shorts and a t-shirt on April 8th but the wind ended up being a huge factor. The first mile is somewhat protected from the wind but you could definitely feel it. I ended up running a nice and controlled 6:18 for the first mile.

Soon after the first mile mark the protection of the dorms is gone and the wind was in full effect. I really struggled running up the hill to the new bridge. As I climbed the hill the wind was blowing hard from my right and I felt like my race number was going to be ripped off. After I turned right on the new bridge the wind was in my face and I felt like I came to a stand still. I was barely moving and struggling. I recovered a bit on the downhill after the bridge and tried to get some kind of running form back on the VFW highway. I crossed mile two with a split of 6:48...ouch!

Once I reached the Aiken Street Bridge I again was faced with a tremendous wind. I ended up holding my race number down with my left hand the whole way across the bridge. I finally got to the final straightaway and muscled home to the finish. My mile 3 split was 6:38. One interesting point is that I ran 13:26 for the last two miles of the race and only three people passed me. That would never happen in a normal Good Times Race. Usually 20 people would have passed me if I ran that slow after mile 1. That proves to me that I was not the only one struggling with the conditions. 

 

After the race we checked out the new venue for the event. Finn's Pub had a much bigger downstairs bar than Hookslide Kellys and a much bigger area for the pre and post race announcements. The bathrooms were cleaner as well. I think this new venue will work just fine. I will miss the outside patio area but for the Spring Series most of the time it is cold or rainy so being indoors is probably better.

My results: 20:23   14th overall and 2nd age group

 Hope to do better next week!

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Impressive Longevity or Depressing Mediocrity?

Posted by David Hardy
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on Sunday, April 06, 2014
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I have done over 400 races in my career at distances including 5k's, half-marathons, marathons, triathlons and the Ironman. I don't really have a favorite race distance but by far the 5k is the race distance I have completed the most. In my career I have completed 186 5k races. That means that 46% of the races I have completed in my career have been a 5k. Even I was a little surprised by that amount.

 

Now like a lot of runners I keep very detailed records of my running stats. I analyzed my 5k racing stats over the years and found some interesting data. I looked back and tracked just my 5k races over the last three 10-year-age-categories I have been in. Keep in mind I am only 41 so I have not been in the 40-49 age group for very long. Now the below data includes total number of 5k's completed, average time, how many times I broke 20 minutes, and how many age group places (1st-3rd).

20-29     Completed 45 5k races-average time 19:56-broke 20 minutes 29x (64% of time)-placed 17x

30-39     Completed 124 5k races-average time 20:05-broke 20 minutes 62x (50% of time)-placed 39x

40-49     Completed 17  5k races-average time 20:21-broke 20 minutes 4x (24% of time)-placed  6x


My lifetime average time for all 186 5k races is 20:04. I have always said I feel OK with my 5k time if I break 20 minutes. As you can see above I have broke 20 minutes 95 times which is 51% of the time. I also have placed 33% of the time which has stayed pretty consistent despite the age group changes.

Enough stats already!!!  Why am I outlining all of these stats?  If you exclude a dozen or so bad performances/great performances basically all of my 5k's for the last 20 years have been between 19:15-20:15. My question is the title of this post...Impressive longevity or depressing mediocrity? Regardless of your answer you have to give me one thing...At least I am consistent.

Every year (for the last 10 years) around this time I prepare to compete in the Good Times 5k Spring Series. I have written a number of posts about the Good Times Series. (check out the series here). This is a 10 week series where you run a 5k on Tuesday nights. By competing for 10 weeks in a row (not counting any additional races I compete in on the weekends) at the 5k distance you get a good feel about your fitness. As I look forward to starting this series on April 8th I am in reasonably good shape and feel I can run some fast times.

Despite all of my training this winter and the hope and promise a new racing season brings somehow I think I will be somewhere right around 20 minutes.....(hopefully a few seconds under)

 

 

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A Runner's Journey

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Sunday, December 01, 2013
in Road Races

I am always inspired by others who have had the courage and will power to change their life. Below is the story of Daryle Lamoureux who transformed his body and lifestyle to become a marathoner and is now a Certified Running Coach. I met Daryle this summer during an RRCA Coaching Course in Salem, Massachusetts and was inspired by his story and I know you will be too.

 Now that my 2013 racing season is over, I can take some time to reflect on the past 18 months. To say that this time has been life-changing would be an understatement.

 The plot of the story will seem familiar to many, but the great part of life is that we live our own version of a “Choose Your Own Adventure Book.” This means that we have the chance to make changes that will greatly alter the outcome. So here’s how my life and running story go.

 Have you ever found yourself in a rut? Have you ever tried to get out of it? It’s not always very easy. In the spring of 2012, at the age of 41, I finally admitted that I was in a rut that was only getting deeper.

 Growing up I was relatively active, but for the most part was not involved in organized sports. And I never was what anyone would describe as a runner. However, I did enjoy running whenever I did. When I was in college, I decided that I would run a 5K. I continued to sign up for the occasional 5K/10k and even ran a few with my wife before we settled down and started our family. Even though we ran these races, we never ran regularly or trained for them.

 Once we had kids and settled into the daily routine of being adults, running, exercise and fitness were all pushed to the side. From 2000 (when our first daughter was born) until the spring of 2012, I was relatively inactive and started to put on more and more weight.

 So now back to that fateful date in the spring of 2012, I found myself weighing almost 280 pounds and realizing that this was not the person that I wanted to be. The Wednesday before Memorial Day my wife and I walked into Seacoast Kettlebells determined that we were going to change our lives. We started eating better and working out regularly, and the weight started to shed away.

 As I started to make this transformation, I knew that I wanted to start running again, to race and to be a runner. I laced up my running shoes during the first week of July, and much to my dismay I wasn’t able to run even a quarter of a mile. But that didn’t stop me.

 I kept going out and working away until I could run longer and longer. By the beginning of August, I was going for a 3-4 mile run (which always involved some amount of walking). Then one day at lunchtime I went to Runner’s Alley to buy a new pair of running shoes, and there was a sign advertising their half marathon training group.

 I read the description and talked about it with someone in the store. The only requirement was being about to run 3-4 miles a few times a week. I was on the edge. I was concerned that I might be the least prepared runner in the group, but I signed up.

 The group started running the following week, and I just settled in. I ended up being a middle of the pack runner and worked my way up closer to the front by the end of the group. Running regularly became addictive, and I immediately started to think about new goals (of course, I would have to run a marathon).

 At the same time, I came across a one page interview with an ultra marathoner named Scott Jurek in Time Magazine. I read it with complete fascination and admiration. He talked about running 135 miles through Death Valley in the summer (the Badwater Ultra marathon) and other feats, all while being a vegan.

 Even though I had always been a very prolific meat eater, I knew that my diet still needed to change more. I read Jurek’s book Eat and Run and then came across Rich Roll’s Finding Ultra (another vegan ultra athlete). After reading their stories, I was convinced that this was right for me too and would make me a better runner.

 So we stopped eating meat and animal products and became plant-powered. My weight continued to drop, and I definitely felt better with this change.

 At the beginning of November, I ran my first half marathon with a 9:37 pace. My goal when I started the group (other than finishing) was to run no slower than a 10:00 minute pace. So this was a success all around. Right after finishing the group, I signed up for my first marathon: Delaware Marathon in May. This was followed by signing up for many other races too (another half marathon, a 20 miler and a bunch of 5Ks and 10Ks).

 

While planning my race schedule, I had started to think about a 50K for the fall. But then I succumbed to the suggestion that that was too long to wait. I signed up for the Pineland Farms 50K in New Gloucester, Maine on Memorial Day weekend … two weeks after my first marathon! People were telling me that I was crazy, but I like a challenge.

 Four weeks before the Delaware Marathon, I had a tendonitis flare up in my ankle. I wasn’t able to run until the day of the marathon, but this didn’t stop me. What it did do, however, was completely change my expected outcome. I was training for a sub-4:00 marathon, but instead ended up with a sub-5:00 marathon. The most important thing was that I finished, and it was an incredible experience.

 Two weeks later I was feeling better and found myself about to run the trails for the Pineland Trails 50K. It was very exciting. The new twist was that it had been very rainy leading up to race day, so the trails were covered with ankle-deep mud for most of the race. Once again, not a great pace, but I finished.

 Having finished these two races confirmed that I am a runner, I love training and I will continue to run as long as I can. Once again, I signed up for a fall marathon (Clarence DeMar in Keene, NH) and another 50K (Big Bad Ultra 50K in Pownal, Maine).

 In the meantime, I switched to running 5Ks and 10Ks to see what I could do. With each race, I was getting faster and faster and every race becoming a PR. I ran my final 5K of the season with a 20:41 time and a 6:40 pace … faster than any 5K that I ran in my 20s.

 I then had a chance to redeem myself at the Clarence DeMar Marathon. I went into the race trained and injury free. I crossed the finish line with a 3:41 time. I ran this marathon at a faster pace than I ran the half marathon less than a year prior.

 

The 50K, however, was a much bigger challenge, and I knew that when I registered. The course had a fair amount of technical single track trails together with 4,500 feet of elevation gain. But I ran through it and finished strong (just not a PR).

 My 2013 racing season ended with the Seacoast Half Marathon (the same race that I was training for the previous year). This time the race was very different. My legs were still not fully recovered from the marathon and 50K in the previous weeks, but I felt good overall. I went out and gave what I could. At the end of the day, I crossed the finished line at 1:44:50. This mean that I had shaved 1:37 off my pace and more than 20 minutes off my overall time!

 More than anything else, this previous 18 months has made me part of the running community. People ask me for advice: How did I go from where I was to where I am now? I found myself drawn to trying to help people achieve similar things in their lives. Therefore, I decided that I wanted to become a running coach.

 I started coaching training groups for Runner’s Alley (an intermediate 10K group and a beginner’s 5K group), and I became a certified running coach. I have both RRCA and USATF running coach certifications, and now I am working with small groups and individuals to help people achieve their running goals.

 Daryle Lamoureux is an RRCA and USATF certified running coach and serves on the Board of Directors of the Coastal Athletic Association. You can get in touch with Daryle through his coaching business Zosha Training (www.zoshatraining.com).

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Racing on Thanksgiving Day

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Sunday, November 17, 2013
in Road Races

 

When you think of Thanksgiving Day the first thing that comes to mind is probably turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and pie.  For many, Thanksgiving is also associated with a sporting event.  You might be thinking football, but there's another type of event that thousands of people participate in each Thanksgiving Day...running a road race.

According to the website Running in the USA there are 68 road races on Thanksgiving Day in New England. Chances are if you're a runner you will be running a race that day. These holiday races are also filled with families and friends who have a tradition to run their local Thanksgiving Day race each year. For many of these entrants it is the only race or even the only run they complete all year. The question is...Why do we run on Thanksgiving Day?  I did some research and did not find a definitive answer. It appears that the idea of burning calories off the morning of our big Thanksgiving Day Feast is a popular reason. Also, the idea of a holiday tradition seems to be important to many.

I do not have a long standing tradition of running on Thanksgiving Day. This year will be my 7th year in a row. Running a local Thanksgiving Day Race is convenient, so you don't have far to travel after the event. My hometown race is the Lowell Thanks 4 Giving 5k. This race has only been around for 12 years. I have completed this race 9 times and plan on entering every year. I really enjoy the atmosphere of running Thanksgiving morning and including this race in my holiday traditions.

New England is not the only place where Thanksgiving Day Races are popular. The oldest Thanksgiving Day Race in the country is the Buffalo Turkey Trot (118 years) followed by the Thanksgiving Day Race in Cincinnati, Ohio (104 years). One of the biggest events is The Dallas Turkey Trot which has over 25,000 entrants.

 What races do we offer on View The Race? We currently have 12 Thanksgiving Day events. See our list below.

Feaster Five

The Feaster Five Road Race in Andover, Massachusetts is one of the biggest road races in New England with 10,000 entrants competing in either the 5k or 5 mile races. This race often has some local celebrities competing and will be celebrating its 26th year in 2013. I completed this race only once. (32:46 in the 5 miler)

Thanksgiving Day Road Race

The Thanksgiving Day Road Race in Southport, Connecticut will be celebrating its 35th year in 2013 and has around 5,000 entrants. This race is a distant second to the Manchester Road Race in Manchester, CT which has 13,500 entrants and is in its 77th year. Unfortunately we do not have that one on VTR.

Dreamcatcher Classic

The Dreamcatcher Classic Road Race in Weymouth, Massachusetts will be celebrating its 21st year in 2013. This is a great event with 1500 entrants competing in either the 2 mile or 5 mile road races. Proceeds support the Julie Rodick Scholarship Foundation.

Thanks-4-Giving

The Thanks-4-Giving Road Race in Lowell, Massachusetts will be celebrating its 12th year in 2013. This race offers both a 5k and 10k race. This is my home course and I plan on being one of the over 1000 entrants that run every year. This year will be the 10th time I have completed this race. My best time is 19:34. (I always do the 5k.)

Turkey Trot Road Race

The 5k Turkey Trot Road Race in Derry, New Hampshire will be celebrating its 40th year in 2013. This is a great 5k road race that runs around Beaver Lake in Derry. This race has close to 1500 entrants. I have done this race once. (20:10)

Whitin Five Mile Road Race

The Whitin Five Mile Road Race in Whitinsville, Massachusetts will be celebrating its 25th year in 2013. This race has a great history and has close to 1000 entrants every year. The race starts and finishes at the Whitinsville Town Common.

Ayer Fire Department Thanksgiving Day Road Race

The Ayer Fire Department Thanksgiving Day Road Race in Ayer, Massachusetts will be celebrating its 9th year in 2013. This race has grown in popularity with close to 800 entrants every year.

 The Fisher Cats Thanksgiving Day 5k

The Fisher Cats Thanksgiving Day 5k in Manchester, New Hampshire is only in its 3rd year in 2013 but already has over 1000 entrants. This race starts near Delta Dental Stadium and actually finishes with a run around the warning track and a finish line near home plate.

Ashenfelter 8k Classic

The Ashenfelter 8k Classic is a Thanksgiving Day tradition in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. Join over 2,500 runners as they start Thanksgiving Day with a road race! This rolling course features long straightaways with few turns. Proceeds from this race benefit the Glen Ridge Educational Foundation.

Run 4 the Pies

 The Run 4 the Pies four mile road race is a Thanksgiving Day tradition in Tequesta, Florida. Over 1500 runners start their Holiday with a great run through the neighborhoods of Tequesta. This race is well organized by the Palm Beach Road Runners and supports the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd's Food Pantry.

Marathon Sports Gobble Gobble Gobble 4 Miler

The Marathon Sports Gobble Gobble Gobble 4 Miler is a great Thanksgiving tradition in Somerville, Massachusetts. Join over 2,000 runners as they start off the holiday with a 4 mile run through the streets of Somerville. The course is mostly flat with just a few small rolling hills.

York Turkey Trot 5k

Please note this race is held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving....The York Turkey Trot 5k is a great Thanksgiving Weekend tradition in York, Maine. This 5k course passes by many famous York landmarks including The Old Parish Cemetery, Civil War Monument, and the Hartley Mason Reservation. Celebrate the holiday with a great Thanksgiving Weekend 5k in York!

 

Pies at the Feaster Five Thanksgiving Day Race

If you already have a tradition of running on Thanksgiving Day hopefully I have filmed your race. Watch the video of the course and get excited about this year's race. If you do not have a Thanksgiving running tradition consider one of the above events. If you are not near one of the above events check your local race calendar...chances are there is a race near you.

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New Hampshire Marathon Race Strategy

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Tuesday, September 17, 2013
in Road Races

In just a few short weeks I will be running in the New Hampshire Marathon. My last 20 mile training run is behind me and I have started my 3 week taper. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I decided to enter this race simply because Newfound Lake has been a frequent vacation spot for me over the past 10 years and I thought it would be cool to actually race on roads that I have completed countless training miles. It is really a beautiful course at a great time of the year.

I thought it would make sense for me to share my marathon strategy for this race since I know the course so well. This is a very challenging course. If you were looking for a PR course this is not it. There are several demanding hills on this course that will test your legs both going uphill and downhill.

The strategy I am using to tackle this course is not for everyone. If you are a strong marathon runner or someone that is looking to run a specific time then my strategy is not for you. If your goal is to finish the race intact with hopefully some zip in your legs for the last 10k then consider my strategy.

My goal is to finish the race with enough energy left to take advantage of the last flat/downhill 10k. What is my current pace? I completed my last training run on the course last Saturday and ran 20.5 miles at 8:32 pace. I parked at the school where the race starts and ran the entire course. I only skipped the out and back portion of the course that heads out to Sculptured Rock. If you are looking to run a solid race consider my strategy...it may work for you.

Start to 8.5 miles

The race starts on Route 3A right in front of the Newfound Memorial Middle School. This first section of the course is completely on route 3A and has no turns. That is the good news. The bad news is that most of this section is uphill. The key to this first section of the course is pacing. Having a tough uphill soon after the start is very dangerous to an inexperienced or nervous runner. You will be full strength and the temptation will be to power up the first set of hills. Please...do not make this mistake. Start this race very slowly and gradually pull yourself up the first couple of miles.

Soon after you pass West Shore Road (check out course video and map here) you will have a short but nice downhill and then you will be faced with a short but tough uphill. This is the first hill I suggest you walk. Yes,  I said walk at the 2 mile mark. At this point you probably think I am crazy and that you are in better shape than me. All I can tell you is that I left my watch running for all of my walking breaks and averaged 8:32 last weekend. The goal is to walk when you feel your pace slipping and your heart rate accelerating. It just does not make sense to push your body over the "red line" at the 2 mile mark. If you walk 20-30 steps on the steepest part of the hill you can stay in control and not burn out your legs.

I use this walking strategy on the first hill after West Shore Road and the last big hill right before the left turn on North Shore Road. If I am having a bad day I may walk a few steps on a couple of other hills on Route 3A as well. This whole first 8.5 mile section is either uphill or downhill. There are no flat sections. This strategy also works for me because as soon as I start running again I return to my steady pace. I also take advantage of the downhills on this section by lengthening my stride and increasing my speed. I do not lean back and slow my pace.

North Shore Road to the Village Store (Miles 8.5-11)

This next section is short and is all on one road. No turns on this section. As soon as you take the left on North Shore Road the first feeling you will have is relief that you are finally off route 3A. Unfortunately you will not have a lot of time to think as you will immediately be faced with a screaming downhill. I stay in control but I do take advantage of this downhill to make up some time. If you are not a confident downhill runner this part of the course will not be enjoyable for you. After flying down the hill there are a couple of tough but very short rollers followed by a tough climb to the top of Devil's Hill. This is the next hill on the course that I walk. I make it about half way up and then walk the rest of the way. At the top of the hill you will have no time to rest as you will be faced with the toughest downhill on the course. This is an extremely steep downhill. I run down this hill but some of my friends walk down it to save their legs and avoid injury. Again, if you are not confident it doesn't hurt to walk the steepest part of the downhill to save your legs. After you get past this downhill there is another short but tough uphill as you approach the Village Store and then the road flattens out.

Out and Back to Sculptured Rock (miles 11-17)

This next section is more rolling hills but does have a few flat sections. Since this part of the course is still early in the race you need to ensure you do not increase your speed too dramatically on the flats. There are also several tough uphills in this section. After the turnaround you will head back towards the Village Store so you will know what is ahead of you on the return. There is another hill I walk on the return trip to the store. Again the key is to listen to your body. If you feel that walking would be similar to the pace you are "running" then switch to a walk and save your legs. Way too early to exhaust your energy stores at this point. The key to surviving this section of the course is to maintain an even pace.

West Shore Road to Route 3A (miles 17-24)

This part of the course starts with a couple of tough uphills. I use my walk strategy on a couple of early climbs on this part of the course. There are a few tough uphills from miles 17-19 and then you hopefully will be able to take advantage of the flattest part of this course. After you crest the hill shortly after Berea, you will have a nice downhill and then the course is flat or slightly rolling for the remainder of this section. This past Saturday I ran 7:58-8:08 pace for miles 19-24. The only exception is one tough but short uphill at the ice cream stand before taking a left to stay on West Shore Road. I actually walked about 20 steps on that hill and used that opportunity to take in nutrition (Snickers Bar) and Gatorade. (See my nutrition plan here)

This section has the most beautiful views on the course as well with the iconic Newfound Lake view right at mile 20.

 

At the very end of West Shore Road just before the right turn on to Route 3A and the final section of the course there is another short but very tough uphill at the church. I walk this uphill and take on some final nutrition before my push to the finish line.

Route 3A to the Finish Line (miles 24-Finish)

This final section is the easiest section of the course. That is if you think the last couple of miles of any marathon are easy. Remember that tough uphill that started the race?  Well, here is some payback. You now get to run down that hill to finish the race. The last section of this course is mostly downhill all the way to the finish. If my strategy works on race day I hope to still be running a solid pace to close out the race.

Final Thoughts

With a tough and technical course like the New Hampshire Marathon proper pacing and strategy are key to a great performance. This course has some tough uphills but if handled properly you should still be able to take advantage of the downhill sections and the last 10k. Don't let your pride get in the way and refuse to walk when your body is screaming at you early in the race. If you are not fit enough to run this entire course then walk the tough parts and run solid on the easy parts. It is a simple strategy that I hope will result in another 8:30 pace performance in 3 weeks!

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Ending Summer with a Classic Road Race

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Wednesday, August 07, 2013
in Road Races

If you were to flashback to 1635, Hingham, Massachusetts was a bustling area that earned the title of being the 12th town in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Beginning with friendly relations between the native Algonquin Indians and European settlers, the area has transformed into the 22.5 square-mile town that Hingham boasts of today, a residential community just 15 miles south of Boston. Its several recreation sites and parks are scattered among historic architecture and open space, creating the perfect family atmosphere and offering endless opportunities to community members. This summer, on Friday, August 23rd that same atmosphere will offer one of the best races on the South Shore: The Marathon Sports End of Summer Classic.

What’s so exciting about this particular race? Volunteers and supporters say that you’re going to notice the addition of several new twists, adding entire new dimensions to the experience that the race’s previous years lacked. The evening will kick off at 6pm in Bare Cove Park, with the first ElliptiGO challenge ever organized on the East Coast. For those who don’t know, ElliptiGO’s can best be described as elliptical machines on wheels, traveling at a top speed of 20 miles-per-hour. Race Director John Childs, a former runner and avid ElliptiGO user, says this will be the biggest “ElliptiGO only” event in the world this year, with the exception of the World Championships near San Diego. It will be a great way to try out something new alongside good running tradition.

 

HINGHAM, MA: Race Director and running enthusiast John Childs eagerly awaits this year's End of Summer Classic.

 

Race organizers have also added a new 3-mile run to the signature 5-mile event due to popular demand. According to Childs, the race will not only appeal to veteran runners, but also new runners and walkers who want to participate in a more comfortable distance category. Both the 3 and 5 milers will start promptly at 6:30 PM.

In order to capture this great event the race will also be filmed from above, using an unmanned aerial film platform to provide a bird’s eye view. This will make the race the first local event to employ this new technology, and the resulting footage will become part of a documentary about the race and Bare Cove Park.

As if you didn't need anymore incentives to participate this year, there will also be tech shirts for the first 400 entrants provided by Mizuno, awards by Marathon Sports, cash prizes in the overall category, custom made mugs to a few lucky runners, great swag in runner bags, and of course the great post race bash at the nearby South Shore Country Club. The entire scene will be surrounded by displays of quality running-related businesses, cheering bystanders, and an overall exciting atmosphere that only a strong community of runners and Hingham residents could bring. “We strive to make it the most fun road race possible,” says Childs. “Not only for the runners, but for the volunteers and the sponsors.”

All proceeds from this event will benefit Bare Cove Park, a scenic wildlife sanctuary and place for public recreation. Your summer won’t be complete until you get hands-on with this unique experience, surely making it one of your all-time favorite annual races.

 

For more information or to register, go to: www.endofsummerclassic.com.

 

- Kristin Concannon

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John Carson 4th of July 2013 Race Report

Posted by Sarah Hardy
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on Saturday, July 06, 2013
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One of my favorite racing events of the year is the John Carson 4th of July Road Race in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. (see a previous blog post explaining why I love this race) The 2013 running was the 12th time I've run this race and my time of 14:40 was one of my worst.  It was exactly one minute slower than I ran last year.  But I'm going to blame that on the heat and humidity, not my fitness level.

When I arrived at the start line the sun was already shining strong and the heat was shimmering off the pavement. The turn out for the race was not diminished by the weather. Over 2,200 racers showed up to run the 2 mile race. I was accompanied to the start line by 14 of my friends and family, including my daughter and sister. We were absorbed into the massive crowd at the start line, and I ended lining up with only my brother-in-law.  While we waited, we bemoaned the fact that we were both completing our first event in a new age category, 40-49.  

The start went off without much adieu.  All of sudden the crowd starting moving forward.  I had not positioned myself as close to the start as I usually do, so I didn't cross the start line for 10 seconds.  While this race offers a chip finish, there is no mat at the start line.  The first half mile was spent jockeying around little kids and people running side by side chatting (really??).  Once I made the turn onto North Road I started to get into a rhythm.  I knew my splits weren't great, so I didn't look at my watch at the one mile mark.  Racers are different, but when I see a slow split mid-race I start to feel a little dejected, so I didn't want to know how bad my first mile was.  Unfortunately, there was someone yelling out the mile time.  I heard "7:30". Ouch!

Just after mile one the road starts a nice gentle downhill (see the course video for a full narration).  I focused on turning my legs over as fast as I could and enjoyed running right down the middle of the road.  The crowds were great, cheering and squirting runners with Super Soakers. There were even a few folks with sprinklers out creating a little patch of rain for runners.

Heading into the center was exciting as always. The crowds were 3 or 4 deep and everyone was cheering. Even though I felt like my lungs were going to explode, I tried to pick up some speed going up the final rolling hill to the finish line. I focused on the fire engine ladder dangling over the road like an upside down  V, with a huge flag hanging from it.  I knew the finish line was just after that. I managed a good sprint and passed a handful of runners at the finish. I was relieved that I managed to stay below 15 minutes after having such a slow first mile.  Final time: 14:40 Average Pace: 7:20

While I'll hope for a cooler day in 2014, I know I'll be out racing no matter the weather.  This race isn't really about a time in the end.  It's about friends, family and celebration. 

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Next Goal Race: New Hampshire Marathon

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Tuesday, June 18, 2013
in Road Races

This year has been a very enjoyable training year so far. With no big races in my future plans I have had no pressure. I have mostly ran 25-30 miles a week with only a couple of bike rides so far. I have been racing quite a bit as I recently just completed all 10 races of the Good Times 5k Spring Series and finished 4th in my age group. (same as last year) After finishing eleven 5k's in 10 weeks I was feeling it was time to take a little break and come up with a long term goal.

Several blog posts back I wrote that I usually get hit with an idea about a goal race during the winter months. I get all excited, sign up and start training. This is the first year that did not happen. Nothing came to mind and I didn't want to force the issue by signing up for a big event when my heart wasn't in it. Running in the Good Times Spring Series was fun but I still did not have any inspiration for that big goal race.

A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation with my wife while having a cold beverage at a fine establishment about Newfound Lake in Bristol, New Hampshire. Every Labor Day and Memorial Day weekend for the last 5 years I have vacationed at Newfound Lake. The roads around the lake are great for cycling and you will always see a ton of people running or biking around the lake. I usually get a couple of really good rides in during the weekend and always try to swim/run as well. There is a 16 mile loop around the lake and I have ridden it over 50 times but have never attempted running the loop. I mentioned I thought it would be interesting to run the 16 miles around the lake some time. It would be a tough hilly run but would be fun. As the conversation was progressing it happened.....inspiration hit me! I should just enter the New Hampshire Marathon! The course starts in downtown Bristol and then circles Newfound Lake before returning to Bristol. Not only do I know the course extremely well but I have also filmed the race! (check it out here)   Perfect!  I finally have a big goal race!

I am super excited. I finally have a big event planned for 2013. Unfortunately I picked quite a challenge as this is not an easy course. This is a very hilly course with a couple of tough climbs. The goods news is that I know every inch of the course and the last 9 miles are rolling to downhill. Basically you just need to survive the first half of the course and then hopefully have some legs left for the last stretch of miles. I have always wanted to run around the lake and now I can do it in a race environment. You really will be hard pressed to find a more beautiful venue for a marathon in the fall.

To make this even more special I have talked my brother in law and sister in law into making this their first marathon. They have the marathon on their bucket list so I said why not this year? Tough course but easy travel, low cost, and they know the course as well as I do. In addition I think I have talked my wife into coming out of "marathon retirement". Once I made the decision to enter this race everything fell into place. On October 5th The New Hampshire Marathon will be my 8th marathon and my 6th state. Let the training begin!

Click here for the New Hampshire Marathon course video.

Click here for the New Hampshire Half Marathon course video.

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I Love the John Carson 4th of July Road Race!

Posted by Sarah Hardy
Sarah Hardy
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on Monday, June 10, 2013
in Road Races

The 4th of July is one of my favorite days of the year.  It just so happens that my hometown, Chelmsford, Massachusetts is a great place to celebrate the 4th.  The John Carson Road Race is held on the 4th of July each year and brings out close to 2,000 runners. This year will be my 12th running of the race.  I'm usually joined by my husband, daughter and a whole group of family and friends. 

The energy and atmosphere at the start line of this race is different from most road races.  While there are serious runners who will cover the 2 miles in under 9 minutes, there are also slower runners and walkers who have come out with their friends and family to participate. As people wait for the starting gun, it's time to catch up with friends and neighbors. It is not unusual to see whole families running/walking in this race.

The race is a point to point course.  It starts on Parkhurst Road behind Hannaford and finishes in Chelmsford Center. The course is rolling and you'll feel some of the hills if you're sprinting. See the course video for specifics on the race course. One thing I like about this event is that each half mile is marked on the ground.  My goal is usually to finish the race under 14 minutes, so I try to keep each half mile under 3:30. 

The first half mile of the race is crowded, but once you turn the corner onto North Road it opens up a bit.  There is another benefit to hitting North Road...the fans!!  North Road is lined each year with spectators to cheer you on.  The reason for all the spectators is that immediately following the road race, the Chelmsford 4th of July Parade follows the same path down North Road. The closer you get to the Center the more spectators and the louder the cheers.  The last quarter mile is usually a blur for me with crowds 4 or 5 deep on both sides of the road. 

 

One of my favorite things about this race is getting to run in the middle of North Road.  A lot of my training runs take me down North Road, so on race day I take advantage of not being stuck on the sidewalk.  I usually run right down the yellow line. 

I think I first came to love this race a number of years ago when I was a 4th grade teacher in Chelmsford.  In June I would always challenge my students to run the race. I said I would buy an ice cream for any student who beat me. I always looked forward to seeing a few of them at the finish line, and I never was beat by a current student.  As the years have gone on, I often see in the race results the names of some of my former students, and I'm happy they are still running the race.  Now that they are older and faster a few have beaten me. 

The John Carson Road Race may be a short race at only 2 miles long but the benefit is it brings out a lot of people who wouldn't tackle a 5K. The entire event has a welcoming feel to it, and since it's the 4th of July everyone is in a good mood.  I know I always am because I'm looking forward to a day spent with friends and family, and maybe some fireworks to celebrate too.

Chelmsford is the place to be on the 4th of July!


Click here to sign up for the Road Race.

Click here to see the course video.

Click here for the Chelmsford Parade website.

 

 

 

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Good Times 5k Spring Series Race Report

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Wednesday, April 17, 2013
in Road Races

After a day of tremendous sadness over the senseless violence that was inflicted on our beloved Boston Marathon, the Good Times runners towed the line on most likely the first organized road race after the horrific events of April 15th. Runners are a resilient group by nature and almost 400 showed up on Tuesday night to show support for the innocent people whose lives were changed forever on Monday. Race Director Dave Camire had some moving remarks prior to the start of the race and asked runners to observe a moment of silence.

Like many of you I was devastated by the news of a bombing at the Boston Marathon. Unfortunately acts of senseless violence seem to be happening all too often. The sheer evil required to plan and carry out any of the recent mass shootings and the bombing at the Boston Marathon is beyond comprehension. There is no valid reason as to why someone commits these acts. Senseless violence doesn't make any sense. The only thing we can do is to hold the  perpetrator of each act accountable, increase our efforts on prevention, and make sure the victims of these acts have the full support of our nation.

 


The Race

This week's race was a unique event named the Rose Maguire's Great Mill Girl Chase 5K. In this event the women start the race first and 2:30 later the men start. The overall winner of the event receives $100, man or woman. This is a fun event for all. Even though I am not in competition for the $100, my focus is always to try to catch my wife before the finish line. I have done this race several times before and beat her for the first time last year.

This race is challenging to me for a few reasons. It is not just the 2.5 minutes that is tough to make up. I am used to starting in the front. When you start in the front and typically finish in the top 20 there are not usually many people in your way. In this race the men need to weave through many of the 200 woman that started ahead of them. There are many narrow sections of the Good Times course (check out the course) and this is always challenging and can really slow you down.

The race started and I waited the interminable 2:30 before I could begin. After running sub-par times for the first two weeks I decided to run without a watch. I like to run by feel in the shorter events. In a 5k I'm always running a 100% effort, so seeing my mile splits doesn't help me run faster. I caught up to the first large group of women fairly quickly and had a tough time navigating for about half a mile. At one point I was flying down the left side of the road third in a line of three men. There was a large group of women in front of us and the lead guy quickly went further left only to find 3 benches blocking our way. Much to my surprise he jumped up on the first bench and then jumped from bench to bench, hit the ground, and kept running. I have never seen someone do this in a road race before. This was impressive but must have taken a lot out of him because soon after he was dropped.

I suffered for most of the race. I finally broke free from the crowds and tried to focus on maintaining a fast pace. At one point on the course as you cross the Aiken Street bridge you can look to the right and see the runners ahead of you going underneath the bridge. As I got to this point on the course I looked and saw my wife about 20 seconds ahead. Unfortunately my legs were close to the red line of effort and I didn't have much left. I tried a surge on the last straightaway in an attempt to bridge the gap. Up the final "S" curves I could see her just ahead of me but the bottom line is I just couldn't do it. She ended up beating me by 4 seconds. However, I did run my fastest time of the season 19:58. Good Times!

 

 

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